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Pasta for lunch, pasta for dinner, and pasta before and after training… For years, we’ve heard that pasta should be a staple dish in an athlete’s diet.
We’ve been sold on this idea that athletes, particularly those in endurance sports such as running, swimming, cross-country skiing, and triathlons…should eat pasta due to its high carb count– which in theory, is necessary for more energy and to fight fatigue.
The recommendation of loading up on carbs goes right with the criminalization of fats, which we were told, were the reason for obesity, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes. However, today everything has changed. In fact, there are more and more experts, doctors, professional athletes, and trainers who support the theory that athletes don’t need to load up on carbs all the time. Jeff Volek, Stephen Phinney, and Tim Noakes are among the supporters, and many studies reinforce their ideas.
How do carbs (Pasta ) work?
Carbohydrates (such as glucose) provide 4 kilocalories per gram which are quickly converted into energy. However, their effect is very short-lasting, resulting in the need to eat again after just an hour and a half.
Fats- a primary source of energy.
Fats, on the other hand, are packed with energy and produce about 9 kilocalories of energy per gram, more than twice as much as sugar. This makes it more satiating, meaning it will provide you with longer-lasting energy than a carbohydrate, around 6 hours to be precise.
“Still, it should be noted that if a person has been carb loading for many years to get energy, the process of switching from carbs to fats should be gradual, never all at once.“
“Starting by eliminating carbohydrates from your pre-exercise meal: this way you can get your muscles used to training without glycogen and ‘pull’ on your fat reserves when necessary.”
In addition to better physical performance (they accelerate your metabolism and after just twenty minutes of exercise, the body relies on them to continue with training), no one doubts that fats are a basic element of good health.
Foods rich in fat maintain body temperature, balance hormones, improve skin conditions, as well as digestion, and prevent mental and cardiovascular diseases… If you want to know more, don’t miss this post.
Risks of a high carb diet:
According to Dr. Phil Maffetone, a physician and athletic trainer, there are people who are particularly intolerant of carbohydrates. It can cause the following symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Drowsiness after eating
- Gas and bloating
- Constant feeling of hunger
- Accumulation of abdominal fat
- Polycystic ovaries
- Cravings for sweets and caffeine
Best alternatives to Pasta
If you’re looking for the energy to do sports every day, I suggest you prioritize the following foods:
- Healthy fats: If you choose good fats, such as avocado, almonds, butter, or olive oil, you will be helping your body to be healthy, nourished, and full of energy. One of my favorite post-workout recipes is this Chicken Guacamole.
- Proteins: It’s what we need most after a workout. I always resort to high protein foods like eggs, meat, and fish, but after training, I prefer to rely on an extra high-quality protein like these, which are also low in carbohydrates and contain BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) which are made to stimulate protein synthesis and strengthen muscle tissues.
- Bananas: These are one of my favorite fruits without a doubt. Packed with carbs and potassium, a mineral that fights muscle cramps helps replenish glucose reserves and is delicious. Need I say more? Eat it alone or throw it in a smoothie like this Banana Cacao and Peanut butter to recharge your batteries.
- Oatmeal: Besides being low in saturated fats, oatmeal contains vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, which is super effective for the proper functioning and recovery of muscles. It’s also easily digestible, provides long-lasting energy, and is very filling. For a delicious post-workout recipe try this: Mugcake Pizza.